The time I got it wrong

I hate to be wrong. As much as I love to be right (who doesn’t?), I hate to be wrong even more. I have lots of reasons for this, but since they revolve around my self-psychoanalysis, I’ll spare you the details. Just know that I viscerally hate to be wrong.

Imagine, then, the internal turmoil that enveloped me the day I realized that sometimes it’s actually BETTER to be wrong. Or the days I have to remind myself of that lesson.

Wait, what?

Yeah, I have a hard time with that, too. But seriously, there are many times when being wrong is better than being right.

Take COVID, for example. I wear a mask, not because I “live in fear” (some anti-masker accused me of that the other day) or because an oppressive government forced me to do it, but because I believe it offers some protection to me and those around me. I believe we need to take reasonable precautions to slow the spread of the disease. I believe that NOT wearing one puts people at unnecessary risk. Sometimes when I see people gathering in large groups, defiant of scientific advice, I think, they’ll see. The virus is going to catch up to them. Except, I really don’t want anyone to get sick.

When a close friend of mine told me her daughter was getting married–straight out of high school–I found it difficult to feel celebratory. Marriage is hard enough! Young marriages are doomed to fail! Why doesn’t she wait at least till she’s legal to drink the champagne at her wedding?! I had a lot of thoughts like this, until one day I realized, what are you hoping for, T? That you’ll be proven right? That means the marriage will fail. No way did I want my friend’s daughter to suffer the pain of divorce.

My dog has been limping around since March. I’ve taken him to the vet so many times, it’s not worth counting. He’s a gentle giant with a heavy dose of stoicism, so the animal care staff mostly thought I was being overprotective. He’s getting older; this is to be expected, especially in these large breeds. He probably just has arthritis. Many months and some expensive xrays later, we learned my best boy has two torn cruciate ligaments, the canine equivalent of the human ACL. Yup, one in each back leg. My poor boy is now looking at two tough surgeries and recovery. As much as I want my boy to be zooming around the house, a tiny bit of my perversely vindicated self wants to scream I TOLD YOU SO to the vet.

Anyway, this has been a hard lesson for me to learn–and re-learn. I feel like a failure when I’m wrong. I like being the person who got it right, not the one who suffers defeat.

But sometimes I need to remember that the real victory is in the outcome itself, not the position I took. It’s when people stay healthy, when marriage works, when your dog is okay after all, when the result is something GOOD. Especially in those times–and probably in many others, as well–I need to remember that rightness and righteousness are not the same.